Our first Trust & Safety Research Awards grantees

n August, we invited researchers studying the societal impact of technology to apply for the Trust & Safety Research Awards. These awards provide grants of up to $100,000 each to support research efforts across disciplines and areas of interest related to Trust & Safety in technology.

Today, we’re introducing the awardees and their proposals, which will study and propose solutions to some of the most pressing questions in tech policy — from advocating for child and teen safety, to combating misinformation. Solving complex problems requires bringing together diverse minds and resources collaboratively, and we look forward to the progress these researchers will make in the year ahead in contributing research that will be valuable to the wider ecosystem.

2023 Trust & Safety Research Award recipients

  • Sylvia Ilieva (Sofia University, Bulgaria) and Keith P Kiely (Sofia University, Bulgaria) will study the Bulgarian disinformation landscape, mapping national context and minority-targeted disinformation narratives.
  • Katharina Krombholz (CISPA, Germany) will work on designing warning and reporting tools with and for children and teens, to combat online child sexual exploitation in end-to-end-encrypted messaging apps.
  • Mai ElSherief (Northeastern University, U.S.) and Kristen Vaccaro (University of California San Diego, U.S.) are studying misinformation about migrants with a parallel study of U.S. and EU misinformation patterns.
  • Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar (Purdue University, U.S.) and Virginia Soldino Garmendia (Universitat de València, Spain) will investigate the influence of gender and age on offender tactics and victim responses, through a cross-cultural analysis of online grooming dynamics.
  • Josephine Wolff (Tufts University, U.S.) will analyze private and public sector stakeholder perspectives on the EU AI Act.
  • Hazel Murray (Munster Technological University, Ireland) and Sanchari Das (University of Denver, U.S.) will work on enhancing digital trust through tailored financial fraud defense for older adults.
  • Kolis Summerer (Free University of Bozen, Italy) and Matteo Leonida Mattheudakis (University of Bologna, Italy) will work on clarifying the notion of illegal content under the EU’s Digital Services Act.
  • Jakob Demant (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) will work on understanding the challenges for smaller European countries in moderation and trusted flagging of crime and hate.
  • Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick (University of California San Diego, U.S.) and Stefan Savage (University of California San Diego, U.S.) will use LLMs to understand digital fraudster behavior by experimenting with chatbots as honeypots.

Why Trust & Safety research is important

Trust & Safety (T&S) is an emerging field in the tech industry that has grown rapidly in recent years. There is increasing importance given to product safety and an awareness of the societal impacts of technology, recognizing that many of these risks are ever-evolving and difficult to solve. Our T&S Research team collaborates with anthropologists, social science and human-computer interaction researchers, civil society and policy experts, alongside representatives from affected populations, to contribute to ongoing research that can mitigate tech risks and drive positive outcomes for society. Such research is also an important input to our internal policy development and enforcement processes. We partner with academic institutions, publish our work to help further industry-wide understanding, and engage broader audiences on our work through the Google Safety Engineering Center for Content Responsibility, industry events like TrustCon and journals such as the Journal of Online Trust & Safety. Our goal in offering awards in Trust & Safety research is to bridge the gap between academic researchers and technologists developing innovative new products to improve outcomes for the ecosystem as a whole.

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